Since May 2015, Buena Park head coach Anthony White and his Coyotes have found their tenacity and inspiration through the watchful eyes of the visitors who flock to the Orange County school: college football recruiters.
White, once mentored by Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham while playing defensive back at the University of Utah from 1999-2002, said nearly 64 coaches from different universities have reached out to him regarding his players.
“They all want the same thing - fast, physical and aggressive football players who are great men on and off the field,” White said.
That influences White to turn his own players into the three aforementioned action words to help deliver a winning product – and keep title hopes alive.
The Coyotes (10-2) have used a relentless defense and explosive versatility out of multiple players to chase down a California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Southwest Division title, as the Coyotes will now take on San Clemente on Friday, Nov. 27 in a semi-final game.
And, along with the wins, Buena Park players have become recipients of some collegiate scholarships.
There’s lead pass rusher Andrew Wright, who landed a Fresno State pledge recently. Then there’s defensive back and wide receiver Elijah Gates, who has an offer from the University of Cincinnati. Hybrid defensive end/linebacker Cedric Dashiel II has drawn Big 12 and Mountain West interest.
Buena Park’s success, though, isn’t based on talent. As White points out, it’s through a certain area that he wants his players to focus on.
“You can watch all the film, draw up 100 difference blitzes and coverages and if you don't focus on playing your best it won’t matter,” White said. “Something that we do special at Buena Park is focus on us: how can we get better and what do we need to do? We come into each week with a sense of what we need to do rather than what other teams want to try to do to us. We focus on setting the tone and playing with extreme attitude and effort.”
Buena Park comes equipped with an exotic defense that confuses offenses and limits points. The Coyotes will line up in three, four or sometimes six man fronts – then attack throughout the night.
“Our Student-Athletes understand their responsibilities and we have a few motto's: "DO YOUR JOB" and "DO YOUR 1/11th,” White said. “We don’t expect one player to take over the entire game, we expect them to do their 1/11th to the best they possibly can and we believe we have more Student-Athletes who will do their 1/11th than the other team.”
Gates has two primary roles on the Coyotes: burn defensive backs at wide receiver and shut down receivers on offense. Against Corona Del Mar on Nov. 20, Gates locked up the Sea Kings’ top receiver Peter Bush to one catch and seven yards in the 35-17 romp.
The Class of 2017 prospect is an example of a Coyote who accepts his roles.
“I played my game study on their offense really well and knew that 75% of their touchdowns came from their throwing game. Plus I knew they ran timing routes and thought press coverage will work well against their offense,” Gates said.
But Gates doesn’t want to gloat about his accomplishments.
“I want to give a shout out to my defensive line for putting pressure on the quarterback,” Gates said. “We just have players who want to play, compete and put Buena Park on the map as one of the elite schools to compete against.”
Dashiel II, who already has 30 career sacks before his senior year, likes to compare the Coyotes to the NFL’s best defense.
“We’re the Broncos, because they have great defensive backs who cover, good defensive linemen and linebackers and they fly around,” Dashiel II said. “Those guys are the standard and we are trying to be like them in some small way.”
White, however, doesn’t compare his team to the best in the NFL or college. He compares them to Buena Park.
“I require a lot of our defensive players, not just athletically, but require my players to focus on their awareness, effort, toughness, attitude and instinct. I don't want corners, safeties, linemen, linebackers or even kickers - I WANT FOOTBALL PLAYERS, PERIOD," White said. "You can play football players anywhere on the field and they'll make plays, because FOOTBALL PLAYERS are accountable, tough and selfless; all essential qualities of not only being a great player, but a great man.”